Right off the bat, I'll admit that I've been called a chauvinist, but I don't agree with that description — I'm not a "women should be at home, in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant" kind of guy, and in fact, I'm all for equality between women and men in the workplace.
Having said that, I should give you a bit of personal observation from some of the past examples of "workplace equality" I've witnessed many years ago while working in a union shop where "equal pay for equal work" was the much ballyhooed posture of this particular company and that, as a union shop, awarded hourly jobs to employees based on their seniority (the length of time they had worked for the company).
While our particular operation dealt with producing computer diskettes both under our own brand name as well as being an OEM for most of the major brands (meaning, it didn't matter if the name was 3M, Sony, Memorex or whatnot, I was the guy making sure that the disk actually held data), there were jobs in that department that required heavy lifting and a high degree of physical exertion.
Guess what? In practice, the theory of "equal pay for equal work" actually played out as being "equal pay for unequal work" since whenever something heavy needed to be lifted or something "dirty" needed to be done, the girls would ask a guy to do it for them.
Was this situation fair? No, but that's the reality of how things worked: the women all wanted to be treated as equals, but they weren't in fact acting as equals, and no well-intentioned, politically popular, equal-opportunity laws were going to change this reality.
I relate this story because the lesson it taught me is that there's a big difference between what women say they want and what they really want. In this situation, what they said they wanted was to be treated the same as any other worker, but what they really wanted was for the guys to do the tough parts for them. The correlation to this industry is that the same situation applies where there's a big difference between what women say they want — and what they really want. In our case, however, it's usually about sex.
There are a few types of women who work in adult: those who are content (performers), those who work on the management/administrative/marketing end of the business, those who work both sides (being performers and administrative types) and those seeking to move from in front of the camera to behind it — or vice versa.
Regardless of where they fall into these categories, most of these women demand (and deserve) respect and to be taken seriously, but the business being what it is, this level of respect is not often attained. "Content chicks" may face an uphill battle in the respect and seriousness departments, but their physical attractiveness often makes up for any personal or intellectual shortcomings. "Admin girls" might receive more respect and may be taken more seriously, but their relative rarity in the upper echelons of the industry illustrate that this business is certainly based on an old boys' network.
The one thing they all have in common is sex appeal — their natural ability to win friends and influence people through their appearance and demeanor. This isn't a trait limited to women in adult, but common to all of the female sex; the difference between adult and mainstream being that in this arena, some blatant flirting (or more) will get a girl what she wants — and with very little risk of incurring a sexual harassment lawsuit.
The upshot to all of this is that a woman who can balance good looks, charm and brains will be at a serious advantage; not only will she likely be underestimated by the guys she's doing business with, but she will be able to put him at ease, make him vulnerable and get what she wants.
Is there a downside to being a woman in adult? Beyond the often questionable level of respect, there is a social stigma attached to this line of work. No matter how professional and businesslike you are, you'll still be perceived as "a slut" (or worse) by any number of co-workers, customers, clients, friends and family members.
But the bright side to being a woman in adult is the fun, relaxed environment where the sky — and your personal ambition — is the limit as far as earning potential is concerned, regardless of your level of education. In adult, a great and rewarding career can be had without going to college — or having to do a triple-anal scene.
On another personal level, my wife is a woman in adult. We met at Internext, were married shortly after (in Vegas, of course) and have lived and worked together as partners ever since. It's been more than five years, and we're still going strong and having fun. She's been a model, cam girl, webmistress, site owner, affiliate manager, ASACP staff member and frequent contributor to XBIZ World magazine. At her core, she's by far the sweetest girl I've ever met, and despite the fact that I'm a pervert and she's a porn chick, we have a mutually satisfied, monogamous relationship. Her flexibility and professional diversity is by no means unique to this business where many women have worn many hats — and successfully adapted to them all.
The bottom line to all of this, however, can easily be summed up by the text that appears on one of my lovely wife's oh-so-tight T-shirts: "Boys obey me." As long as that's the case, there will be a bright future for women in adult, regardless of where they fit into the overall scheme of things.